With so many shows to go see, you might feel overwhelmed by the options at the wealth of great music venues Boston has. Never fear — we've picked out a few can't-miss shows for you to check out.
June 28, Berklee Performing Arts Center
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Like the classic jazz singers she’s compared to, Madeleine Peyroux has a full arsenal of standards she performs in addition to her own work. With no slight to Peyroux’s own songwriting, it’s the standards most people will show up to see. Her version of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the end of love” - perhaps the song she’s best known for - is nothing short of devastating. Any songwriting skill (and she has more than a little) is really just gravy.
July 2, Blue Hills Bank Pavillion
It’s amazing that Brian Wilson went this long without a major biopic. The Beach Boy’s nostalgic, cherry-soda lyrics long belied Wilson’s symphonic composition talents. And when Wilson eventually withdrew from public eye, obsessively overworked, self-medicated and misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, it seemed like Wilson had been crushed under the weight of his own genius. It’s a story that combines the best parts of “Walk the Line,” “A Beautiful Mind” and “American Graffiti,” finally captured by the quietly released “Love & Mercy” that dropped earlier this month. Wilson’s Blue Hills Pavilion show is the closest look at an American icon you’ll get this close to July 4th.
July 5, Paradise
At times, Death Grips is an experimental hip hop outfit built on jagged edged sounds. At other times, Death Grips is a three-man imitation of a band that has flown entirely off the rails that’s harder and harder to explain away as performance art. They no show tour dates (buyer beware!), orchestrated a spectacularly self-sabotaging breakup with a label over giving downloads away for free, and released an album where the main source of beats was Bjork vocal samples.
Raekwon + Ghostface
July 17, Paradise
For Wu-Tang fans, Raekwon is a bit of an enigma. As a collective, Wu-Tang’s strength came from its ability to showcase so many disparate talents in just the right doses; with 10 voices, you’d think the band would accidentally get bogged down highlighting Ghostface’s storytelling or Method Man’s cadence and lose that perfect dose of O.D.B’s…whatever O.D.B was. The only ingredient that never lived up to the recipe was Raekwon, whose undeniable solo talent (see his solo album featuring Ghostface, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx) seemed to wither into tacitly uninspired performances. Raekwon sans Wu Tang – as he’ll appear here – is the only way to see Raekwon.
July 18,19, Fenway Park
If there is one thing the HBO documentary of Sonic Highways demonstrated, it’s that Dave Grohl has an outstanding appreciation of the musical history of different communities. No exception in his Boston openers; The Foo Fighters will be sharing a stage with seminal Boston bands. And, even if the firsttwo he picked won’t be the most cohesive mix of sounds – angular, 80s intelligensia punk in Mission of Burma, 90s pop-ska in the Mighty Mighty Boss-tones – neither band will be strangers to the vinyl collection of anyone who wore flannel over a Nirvana shirt. The second night features hometown heroes Dropkick Murphys and Brits Royal Blood.
July 21, The Sinclair
$12 / $14
Elle King isn't the first performer to be saddled with the baggage of a famous relative. Just ask Edwin Booth, widely recognized as the greatest living actor of his day at international performances until his brother put a crimp in ticket sales by assassinating President Abraham Lincoln. King doesn't have it quite that bad, but her father Rob Schneider - the anti-vaxxer star of critically reviled fare like the Deuce Bigelow movies - is a weird footnote for any would-be blues, soul and banjo literate spitfire rockstar. On her own merits, King has an absolute cannon of a voice. She'll be hard to hold back, even with a bloodline responsible for "The Hot Chick."
July 22, The Sinclair
Shuggie Otis is as famous for not being a superstar as he’s ever been while being one. Though he stayed offstage and out of the studio between the 1970s and his 2013 comeback, the legend of his psychedelic R&B grew through endorsements from musicians like Prince and Outkast. He returned to the biggest audiences of his career. Sometimes it takes 40 years to get the shot you deserve.
TT the Bears closes, End of July
Where do great Boston institutions go when they die? Like the Rat, Deli Haus, Ding Ho Comedy Club and Phoenix before it, TT The Bears heads to that thickly-accented neighborhood in the sky. A thirty year veteran of the Boston music scene and the backdrop to Sebadoh’s “Ocean” music video, TT The Bears hangs up its spikes this summer. But not before a week-long going out of business celebration. Goodbye, TT’s.
RJD2 Blueprint Supastition
July 30, Middle East (Downstairs)
You may know RJD2 from watching a man jump off a skyscraper. RJD2 (real name, Ramble John Krohn) may have created his most enduring contribution to popular culture with the theme song to Mad Men, backing the iconic cartoon of a silhouette leaping to his death. But it would be a shame if that is all you know him for. “Dead Ringer,” a moody mix of soul, R&B and dorm room angst, remains one of the best instrumental hip hop albums of all time. He appears with his Soulposition partner, the emcee Blueprint.
July 31, The Sinclair
Legendary LA punk band X was, in many regards, what happened when American punk was taken out of its late 70s New York bubble. X stretched the genre’s “hard chords” (as they’d call it in “Unheard Music”) to the back catalog of American musical styles, like rockabilly, blues and roots.
Aug 21, Paradise
Earl Sweatshirt’s talent, not to mention the type of mid-career introspective wisdom he showed on his second album “Doris,” made it easy to forget how much living the now-21-year-old still has left to do. That, more than anything, is the message of the far darker toned “IDLSIDGO,” his third album, written on the heels of a death in the family and a breakup. Sweatshirt is so good at what he does, his last two albums each sound as though they could represent different fully realized end points for a maturing artist. But, with fingers crossed for happier times, Sweatshirt hasn’t experienced all his lives swerves. He’s 21. See this Earl Sweatshirt now, because he may be an entirely different person by the next album.